Archive for August, 2007

Have It All?

Posted: August 28, 2007 in consumerism, life

I’m notorious for being hard on TV preachers. And I’m hardest on those that always seem to be telling us that if we send them money (a seed), or pay $300/ person to register for their conference then God will bless us and make us rich. They tell us that we can have everything if we just do this one thing or that one thing; that God is waiting to make us millionaires with great families and that if we only thought right we could have our best life now. Today though, I am sad for Paula and Randy White. The couple, founders and pastors of Without Walls International, are getting divorced — the second divorce for both.

Divorce is almost always bad! And I feel for what they are going through. I remember when my parents got divorced and that process is not fun for anyone. But as I checked Paula’s website this morning I was taken aback by the front page which had a picture of Paula, arms outstretched with a banner reading, “You Can Have it All” and below it a box labeled, “Let Me Show You How.”

Really?

Isn’t it time that Christians get real with the world about the gospel. The gospel is a beautiful, challenging, rewarding, thing but it never promises to be a silver bullet. The gospel never promises to give you a BMW, a large house in a gated community, the finest clothes, a lively, lovely marriage and kids who never rebel. It just doesn’t!

God never promises us that we can have it all!

And we’d likely be a horrible people if He did.

And lo and behold, Paula White, and no one else for that matter, can “show you how.”

When you get the gospel, you get Jesus. That’s it! Certainly Jesus affects your finances and family, but the call of God is typically about sacrifice and calling more than consumption. With Jesus you get meaning not materialism. With God you get an accurate view of the world; its needs and God’s desire to love and save it, and rarely does that have anything to do with whether or not someone drives a Lexus or a Honda.

Perhaps God is not interested in us having it all, perhaps He is interested in us knowing what’s worth having.

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The Psalm of Malia

Posted: August 26, 2007 in Everything

p8120033.jpgPeople think I’m kidding when I tell them that my 3-year-old daughter Malia is the great theologian in our family. It’s true nonetheless.

This last Friday, as Malia was sitting at my desk typing, this is the Psalm she wrote: (She actually spoke it, her mom transcribed it. And, yes, she actually said this.)

“God, the Holy Father, All his people come to the
table to worship.
God, the Holy Father, Praise his name forevermore.
Holy Father, Make my heart good. God, will all your
strength and might. I do bad things, no matter what,
you will take care of me always.

People of my life, for the holy highest, Praise His
name.
His will comes for us, goodness in our heart
For the goodness of God, His Holy Highest is with me.
God is my strength forevermore. Praise his name.
The holy highest forgives us of our sins.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness.
Our hearts are dead, our hearts are alive. People in
our hearts live, our heart of love. For God, the Holy
Highest is with me.
Thanks for God.
Thanks for God.

Amen.”

If you didn’t see CNN’s Christian Amanpour’s three night special, God’s Warrior’s, you’ve missed some of the best reporting I’ve seen. Please catch it this weekend! I want to offer a couple of thoughts on last night’s coverage of God’s Christian Warriors.

1. First of all, I’m not quick to say that Amanpour’s coverage was as balanced as a lot of other people are. The reason is that as she talked with Christians last night, the report seemed to equate some things that don’t quite add up. For instance, I don’t think that the bombings of abortion clinics by insane individuals is the same thing as the radical Islamic culture of death. There’s a difference between individuals acting alone and building schools designed to teach hate and terrorism. There’s also a difference between appropriate dress and Teen Mania’s Honor Academy and the Taliban’s law forcing women to cover completely from head-to-toe and never leave the house without a man. Those equations make me think that Amanpour may not have been fair to Islam and Judaism which I know much less about.

2. Falwell’s “Pit-bulls”: Under NO circumstances should people who claim to be acting on behalf of God deliberately use imagery that is predominantly associated with attacking and violence. Pit-bulls, at least to my knowledge, are notorious for attacking the weak and the small; often children. That very imagery goes against what I hold dear about Christ. That’s not to say that Jesus is never controversial, but the Spirit of Jesus does not attempt to hurt, destroy or kill. That’s what pit-bulls do. Remember: Micheal Vick owned pit-bulls.

3. Thank God for Greg Boyd and others like him. Boyd made a lot of sense last night. I commend to you his book, The Myth of a Christian Nation.

4. People homeschool for a lot of reasons. I thought Amanpour was stretching her point when she highlighted the homeschooling movement. Rochelle and I have considered homeschooling and our faith is part of the reason. Here are two other reasons: (1) schools aren’t great at teaching anymore and (2) we don’t want our girls shot in the cafeteria. Those are matters of faith to us, but not necessarily matters of faith.

5. After watching some of all three nights I can better understand those that say that religion is the problem in America. When you name a TV special, “God’s Warriors” that creates a certain imagination and sends you in search of a certain kind of person. The result? The special reports the ugly parts and ugly people of the three great world religions. I wonder what a special would look like that examined “God’s Peacemakers?” People would likely see a very different story–if anyone bothered to watch.

Meeting People’s Needs

Posted: August 23, 2007 in books, ministry, quotes

From William Willimon’s “Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry”:

“My colleague Stanley Hauerwas has accused the contemporary pastor of being little more than ‘a quivering mass of availability.’ Practicing what I have called ‘promiscuous ministry’–ministry with no internal, critical judgment about what care is worth giving–we become the victims of a culture of insatiable need. We live in a capitalist, consumptive culture where there is no purpose to our society other than ‘meeting needs.’ The culture gives us the maximum amount of room and encouragement to ‘meet our needs’ without appearing to pass judgment on which needs are worth meeting. The capitalist, big-is-better mentality infects our pastoral work as we labor to increase the size of our congregation through our care, to move up the ladder of pastoral appointments, to be a ‘success’ as this culture defines it. In this vast supermarket of desire, we pastors must do more than simply ‘meet people’s needs.’ The church also is about giving people the critical means of assessing which needs give our lives meaning, about giving us needs we would not have had if we had not met Jesus.”

God’s Warriors

Posted: August 22, 2007 in Everything

Last night — in between reading 100 pages and telling my daughter to “get back in bed” — I caught the first installment of Christiane Amanpour’s three night special on CNN, “God’s Warriors”. Last night’s special focused on God’s Jewish Warriors. Very informative and interesting.

Tonight Amanpour takes a look at God’s Muslim Warriors and Thursday night is about God’s Christian Warriors. Check it out!

I first discovered the sermons and writing of Barbara Brown Taylor about 5 years ago when I read “The Preaching Life”. Recently I been looking back over the book. Here are some great words from her:

“If the preaching they hear is effective, it will not hand them sacks of wisdom and advice to take home and consume during the week, but invite them into the field to harvest those fruits for themselves, until they become preachers in their own right. Preaching is not something an ordained minister does for fifteen minutes on Sundays, but what the whole congregation does all week long; it is a way of approaching the world, and of gleaning God’s presence.”

I Told You So…

Posted: August 20, 2007 in Everything

For years I’ve been telling parents and other concerned adults that kids really do like to spend time with them. Teenagers like their families. Almost to a person people have rejected the idea that adolescents both listen to and appreciate mom and dad. Unfortunately, many folks have bought into the pop-culture lie that teenagers dislike their families and don’t want to be around them. I’ve been saying for years that that belief is not true. And turns out I was right!

Now I have proof!

An MTV/Associated Press study reports that it’s not money, music, sex, or materialism that makes teens happy: It’s time spent with their families. Almost half the kids responded that one or both of their parents were their heroes.

How about that!